Salvation From What?
When James speaks of being "saved," he is not talking about being saved from hell. He is talking about being saved from the consequences and hardships of trials ("peirosmoi" in Greek) especially though not exclusively, the hardships and trials that poverty and homelessness had visited upon believers who had fled Jerusalem during the great persecution of Acts, chapter 8. Those trials and hardships could realistically include homelessness, hunger and freezing to death.
And faith is no more the commodity for delivering one from the trials of homelessness than obedience to the Ten Commandments is to save one from God's eternal condemnation, or seashells are in purchasing a new Mercedes Benz.
One purchases a new Mercedes Benz with dollars, not seashells.
One is saved from eternal condemnation by believing on Jesus Christ, not by living a life of obedience and good works.
And, if one wants to save their unemployed brethren in Christ from the temporal (here and now in space time) consequences that attend unemployment, such as homelessness and hunger, that salvation IS the result of a life of obedience to Christ, and good works!
The Commodity for Salvation from Trials
You will not save your unemployed brethren in Christ from depression, the break up of their family, or even starvation and freezing simply by faith. This salvation DOES require works. Saving one's brother from the terrors of unemployment requires truly sacrificial work, and cannot be done by dropping $5.00 in the offering on a Sunday Morning. It is done by offering an empty bedroom in your home to your unemployed brother in Christ . . . by offering them a part time job in your shop or office, or by inviting them to dinner on a weekly basis so that, in the midst of insecurity, there is at least one sure thing in their life.
l James is not speaking of being saved by "faith plus works."
l James is not speaking of a "faith that works." (As if works "automatically" follow eternal salvation.)
l James is not saying that works will "automatically" follow eternal salvation.
l James is not saying that works will "prove" whether or not someone has "really" been saved.
The reason, quite simply, is that James isn't speaking about eternal salvation at all. He is speaking of salvation from trials and hardships. And that salvation is not secured by "faith plus works." It is (if you will indulge the play on words) "by WORKS ALONE!!"